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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 27, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas NEW PELS HERALDZEITUNG Vol 150 No 39 16 pages in 2 sections December 27 2000 WEDNESDAY Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents Community helps family devastated by mobile home fire K JtSWE HeraldZeltung James Jr and Serena Ethridges dog Djxie alerted their family to a house fire BY Jo LEE FERGUSON Staff Writer SPRING BRANCH The Christmas sea son brought tragedy for James Jr and Serena Ethridges family A fire that claimed the life of a family pet and burned all their presents just days before Christmas destroyed much of the familys mobile home But the family is thankful they didnt lose more and in the days since the fire theyve learned a lesson about the people around them The family has been showered with dona tions of food clothing and money from numerous organizations and people to help them recover from the fire Ive learned that even though people dont show it all the time deep down in their hearts they really do James Ethridge Jr said The Ethridges and their two children Heather 11 and Brandon Hollis 7 had gone to bed Wednesday night without turning off the lights on their live Christmas tree Comal County Fire Marshal Lin Manford said as the family slept early Thursday morn ing a fire started in the corner where the tree sat The Ethridges large bullmastiff named Dixie tried to wake the family as the fire began to spread It was about three oclock in the James Ethridge Jr said Dixie kept nudging on me I thought she was wanting to go out and go to the But about the time he opened his eyes Ethridge said the fire alarm went off I sprang out of bed and hollered he said He made sure his wife was awake and bolt ed into the living room There he saw the fire had traveled from the tree in one corner to the front door across the room He had to run under the fire to the room where the children were sleeping down the hall I saw scared to Ethridge said I told my wife that the only thing I could think was if I didnt get those kids they didnt have a snowballs He made it to the childrens bedroom but they were hard to wake up at first He busted through a partially boarded up window and helped each child outside He then crawled out that window and returned to the bedroom window where his wife was trying to rescue the familys pets Ethridge said he looked in and saw that his wife Serena had become disoriented and did not know where the window was He helped his wife out the window and then turned to his large bullmastiff which stands more than waist high He lifted the dog up and threw her out the window 1 told Serena that dog felt light as a feath he said laughing as he recalled how easy it was to lift the large dog He then sent a second family dog out the window and began searching for one of two family cats he knew was still inside I couldnt find my daughters he said The family had three dogs and two cats The three dogs and one cat survived However two of the dogs have since died in separate accidents See Historic vote to determine senate leader BY RON MALONEY Writer SAN ANTONIO Two days before Texas state senators choose a new lieutenant governor in a historic vote Sen Jeff Went worth worked in his San Antonio office even though it was closed for the Christmas hol iday On Thursday Lt Governor Rick Perry was sworn in as gov ernor to fulfill the unexpired gubernatorial term of President elect George W Bush For the first time in Texas his tory the State Senate has been charged with choosing a new lieutenant governor Wentworth a former Bexar County commissioner and 22 year legislative veteran in Austin has been pursuing the lieutenant governors post for more than a year since the days when Bush emerged as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president In Comal County there are officials who hope Wentworth gets the post County Judge Danny Scheel is seeking increased authority for Comal Comity to regulate growth in its unincorporated areas Im very much interested in the outcome of Scheel said With Jeff Wentworths back ground in county government he understands that counties such as ours need this Scheel said the lieutenant gov ernor sets the legislative agenda for the Senate and appoints the committee leaders who will get the Senates work done If Sen Wentworth is appoint ed lieutenant governor he can help us by appointing committee chairs who are knowledgeable of the growth problems were Scheel said Wentworth said he was grate ful for Scheels support I wish he had a vote in the Senate I could use his suj the senator said Ive been dealing with this issue of county authority for over 20 years Local elected officials need to have more authority than they currently have to regulate development in unincorporated Wentworth said Wentworth said he would bring that point of view to the job he has worked a long time to get Of course I want the posi Wentworth said on the steps of the capitol on Nov 9 Ive told my colleagues of my interest in a lowkey But even in November Went worth knew he was not the only person looking for the job There are a number of us who have let our colleagues know wed be willing to he said Wentworth is only one of half a dozen members of the Senate the highest house of the Texas Legislature to express interest In a body where Republicans hold a singleplace majority the likely successor to Perry will be a Republican Besides Wentworth Republi cans Buster Brown of Lake Jack son and David Sibley of Waco are considered the frontrunners for the post Its going to be See Winter visits again Travelers phone book Weather condi tions 6063617 Road conditions 800 4529292 Road closures abled Motorist Helpline 800 525 5555 Alltell GTE Wireless Houston Cellular Nextel SBC Wireless Verizon Wireless and Amarillos Cellular One wireless phone customers simply dial Some informa tion may not be up totheminute CHRIS Kelly West 6 with her sister Rachel and father Rick peeks out from underneath an umbrella Tuesday in front of Wal Mart in New Braunfels Freezing temperatures bring possible sleet snow BY JENNIFER RODRIGUEZ Staff Writer The series of cold blasts from the north that have been squeezing moisture from the Pacific into a steady rain over New Braunfels could sleet or even snow today and tonight National Weather Service forecasters pre dicted a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms and sleet all day low temperature near freezing tonight and early Thursday It will be pretty cold mis week until forecaster Joe Baskin said Cold temperatures rain and sleet could mix to create dangerous weather and road conditions officials said but the chance of that happening looked slim by Tuesday afternoon In New Braunfels temperatures will hold just above the freezing mark but the Hill Coun try will be difficult West of the hills will be a lit tle more Baskin said Comal County Fire Marshal Lin Manford said Tuesday morning the sheriffs office is braced for whatever the weather brings Well work closely with the county road department and with the Texas Department of Manford said County engineer Tom Hornseth said road crews were ready to react to whatever the weath er dishes out As usual were Hornseth said Well have crews on stand by as soon as we get the well put up signs and barricades and put up sand and gravel on the road to enhance the safety of those Weve got all our materials together and sta tioned We store ihe trucks indoors in the heat so those things are ready to go when theyre need Brush and fallen trees caused Hornseth and his staff the biggest problem during the freeze ear lier this month We spent most of our time clearing brush and Homseth said Those limbs could hang down more than usual so drivers need to watch out for that too especially If conditions do get icy and travel is unavoid able motorists should drive slowly especially over bridges and overpasses he said Listen to the radio If you can avoid travel ing because when it is icy traveling is danger Hornseth said Take extreme care on bridges and overpasses sometimes its hard to determine whetherthere is ice or But Manford and Hornseth said the best thing travelers could do in icy conditions is stay off the See INSIDE a UAJH AJUM Key Code 76 Bush family take working vacation in Florida FORT MYERS Fla AP President elect Bush began a brief family fishing vaca tion Tuesday but made plain that he was devoting much of his attention to building a new administration His daughter Jenna stayed behind in Texas to recover following an appendectomy Bush picked up his parents in Houston en route to Boca Grande a favorite family angling spot on Floridas gulf coast It was his first trip to the state since the election recount here stalled his claim on the presidency for five weeks After Bush arrived at the airport near here someone appeared with fishing rods and the family departed in a small motorcade for Boca Grande an exclusive resort town on Gasparilla Island between Sarasota and Fort Myers Bush brothers Jeb Neil and Marvin and their father the former president played golf in the afternoon Aides had said last week they expected a nonworking getaway But with Inauguration Day 3 weeks away Bush pressed on with assembling his Cabinet now about halfcompleted Additional nominations could come as early as Thursday during a trip to Washing ton they said Stepping onto his plane in drizzly Austin Texas Bush said he planned a little relax ation a lot of phone Early Tuesday he conferred with Andrew Card who will be his White House chief of staff He also planned to confer with Vice Presidentelect Dick Cheney followed by another round of calls on Wednesday Ive got a lot of transition work to Bush said obviously mindful of the fact that time is running he said Weve done a very good job I think given the fact that over 30 days were taken out of the The Cabinet announcements came to a halt Christmas weekend after a 10day wave of picks capped Friday by the nominations of Missouri Sen John Ashcroft for attorney general and New Jersey Gov Christie Whit man for Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gasparilla Island has served as a gathering spot for the Bush family for years The presidentelects wife Laura was not expected in Florida spokesman Gordon Johndroe said But Bushs daughter Barbara was he said Barbara is the twin sister of 19 yearold Jenna Jenna Bush was listed in good and stable condition at St Davids Medical Center in Austin Tuesday morning and was expected to be released later in the day said Dr Bill Race Shes feeling Bush said It was possible she would join the family in Florida Bush said If not she can clean out her he joked ;